TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – The original Jose Fernandez jersey that went missing after a vigil this week has been returned to Alonso High School. Hillsborough County School District said Friday morning.
School district officials said a family saw a large envelope leaning up against the ticket booth at Alonso. The envelope had the words “Jose’s jersey” written on it. The family brought the envelope to the school Friday morning. The jersey was inside.
“The entire Alonso High School family is grateful to have the jersey back and would like to thank the media and the outpouring of social media posts which shared this story,” school officials said.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says this isn’t the end of the story. The investigation is still active. The jersey may have been returned – but a crime was still committed, officials said.
“You know, this is still a crime,” Detective Larry McKinnon said. “It’s still going to be investigated as a crime until such time as we’re told that they don’t want to prosecute, and at that point we can terminate the investigation.”
The jersey went missing Wednesday after a vigil was held at the high school in Fernandez’s honor. The #16 jersey had been hanging in the dugout during the ceremony. As the coach and school leaders cleaned up after the vigil, they realized the jersey was gone.
Members of the school’s booster club immediately took to social media, calling the theft awful and unbelievable. Kelli Burns, a social media expert with the University of South Florida, believes exposure in the media and shaming on social media may be behind the jersey’s return.
“A story like this is something that angers a lot of people. And stories that anger people … They go viral so quickly on social media,” Burns said. “So all it takes is just a retweet, a share, some comments and everybody’s talking about the story.”
The memorial came just three days after Fernandez’s untimely death. He and two others were killed as the boat they were in crashed into a jetty in the waters off Miami Beach early Sunday morning.
The Miami Marlins drafted Fernandez in 2011.